Over the past six months, I have consulted with churches and communicators about the effectiveness of their messages.
Some messages are incredibly powerful, and some are not, which leads to the question, “What is the difference between a perfect message and a powerful message?”
Let me answer this question through these lenses:
- My experience in preaching
- My experience in coaching communicators
- How a congregation of people accepts a communicator and his/her content
– A powerful talk comes from a consecrated life.
– A perfect talk can come from either a pure or polluted life.
Anyone can give a perfect talk with enough practice and content development. And I have seen this happen: A perfectly crafted talk from a very experienced and sadly polluted and unconsecrated communicator. A perfect talk comes across very pleasant, entertaining and polished.
It carries information but does not lead to transformation.
I’m not saying that every apparently perfect talk is being delivered by an unconsecrated and polluted communicator. There are many very gifted, surrendered, consecrated communicators who deliver perfectly timed talks.
It’s strangely possible for a talk to be perfected either by our own human ingenuity and/or through God’s divine presence and power.
A powerful talk on the other hand comes from a consecrated life. This is a person who is working to present themselves as pure, not perfect, as they stand on the stage. When this happens I believe there is a mystical and intangible thing that occurs: God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, causes people to trust the communicator.
And this “trust” trumps content and a perfect presentation.
In other words, the talk does not need to be perfect when God is in it.
The interior world and life of the communicator is just as important as the depth and relevance of the content.
– A powerful talk comes from the inside.
– A perfect talk comes from the outside.
It’s all about where the message originates.
If the message from a communicator is fully “borrowed” from another communicator, it often lacks authenticity. It is a message that comes from outside their own world. It may appear perfect in the moment but it often lacks long term power.
If the message delivered is from inside a communicator’s world, there is typically an originating moment that birthed the message, and this brings conviction and power.
That is not to say one can’t borrow the message of another and experience power. But I would say that any message that you hear that affects you deeply should be lived with for months or possibly years. It should be digested and metabolized into your own life before sharing it with others.
I am a firm believer that when it comes to messages …
A good illustration from your own life will always trump
a great illustration from someone else’s.
Our lives as communicators should be so authentic and real that we have relevant and recent material from our own lives to share with others.
If our most recent stories of God working are from someone else’s life or our lives 3 -4 years ago … we might need to rethink the vitality of our everyday lives.
– A powerful talk is often lightly rehearsed.
– A perfect talk is often overly rehearsed.
I have a confession to make …
I spent more than 5 years of my life overly rehearsing the messages I preached. I would preach the weekend message 8-12 times before I ever got up to preach the message live to the congregation.
Over time this brought about two undesirable consequences …
- I was already bored with the message LONG before I preached it.
- I was no longer trusting the Holy Spirit to empower the message because frankly I had the message memorized and perfected.
Today I study, prepare and pray very hard
and preach my message one time before I go on stage.
This rhythm works for me as a communicator, and it insures that I am not presenting perfection.
I am stepping on stage prayed up and prepared but also DESPERATE for the power of God to inhabit and bring power to the message.
My minutes right before I go on stage these days sound something like this …
“God, you better show up today! Thank you, Father, for this opportunity to speak to these people. Thank you for giving me time and energy to prepare … But God, if you do not show up and empower this message … I am sunk. God, change whatever you need to change and please bring your power to this presentation. Let these people remember You not me.”
I would rather experience a powerful message over a perfect message any day of the week.
The battle inside me as a communicator is to surrender my own desire to be perfect for a message that is powerful.